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Central office relocations will test 'work anywhere' goals

L.A. Cicero 3145 Porter Drive

About 350 employees will temporarily move to 3145 Porter Drive in the Stanford Research Park next June.

L.A. Cicero Porter

BY MICHAEL PEÑA

All offices and staff currently in the two buildings that make up the Serra complex will need to move next June so that construction can begin on the new Graduate School of Business campus, which is expected to break ground in summer 2008. About 350 employees will move into temporary office space in the Stanford Research Park at 3145 Porter Drive.

Most of them will be affiliated with Business Affairs, a large division of the university that includes Human Resources, the Controller's Office, the Office of Research Administration, Information Technology Services and several other central offices. All of Land, Buildings and Real Estate will move to the complex at Porter Drive as well. Other offices now in the Serra buildings—such as Faculty Staff Housing, Contracts, and Environmental Health and Safety—will move to other locations on campus.

In addition, 200 employees in central administration offices at the School of Medicine will move into rented space in Menlo Park. That relocation, prompted by increased space needs for new faculty and the eventual construction of new research facilities where the Medical School Office Building now stands, is expected to happen sometime between October and Thanksgiving, according to senior administrators overseeing the move.

Because the university is under strict growth restrictions imposed by the county-issued General Use Permit, old facilities on campus must sometimes come down before new ones get built, according to Provost John Etchemendy. He said such restraints have forced the university to look beyond the main campus for opportunities to accommodate the kind of growth that world-class academic programs inevitably experience.

"We thought long and hard about how best to live within those restrictions while still meeting the teaching and research needs of our students and faculty," Etchemendy said. "We very reluctantly came to the conclusion that we have to move some university offices away from the core campus governed by the General Use Permit."

Porter Drive

The Porter Drive complex consists of six interconnected buildings with essential amenities, including a dining area with an attached outdoor deck, a fitness room, showers and meeting spaces, as well as attractive landscaping outside and ample parking. A TIBCO dining facility and Good Earth café are nearby.

Parking and Transportation Services (P&TS) will continue to promote alternative methods of commuting. By bike, the ride between the Porter Drive complex and the main campus is about 15 minutes, and Marguerite shuttles currently serve the research park. Additionally, P&TS is looking into partnering with other employers in the research park to improve shuttle service from the University Avenue Caltrain station.

And yet, while construction will dislodge everyone currently in the Serra buildings—headquarters to key operations such as Human Resources and Benefits, the Controller's Office and Payroll, as well as Land, Buildings and Real Estate—not everyone based there will move off the main campus.

Coinciding with the relocation of the Serra complex's current occupants, other departments with staff dispersed across the university may be temporarily brought together under one roof so as to free up their former locations for Business Affairs staff who need to remain on campus. About one-third of Business Affairs—or approximately 300 employees—will move to Porter Drive. (As a whole, Business Affairs staff are currently in 22 separate locations throughout campus.)

Work Anywhere

The inevitable changes to where and how university staff do their jobs will be widespread, and guiding the planning and support effort is the Work Anywhere Task Force, a group of 30 members from more than a dozen central divisions, such as Human Resources, Information Technology Services, P&TS, Environmental Health and Safety and the many offices under Business Affairs. (See previous story in July 11 Stanford Report.)

The mission of the task force, since its inception in June 2006, has been to develop ideas and guidelines about modernizing and adding flexibility to the day-to-day routines of Stanford employees so as to make the best use of finite space on campus and leverage today's technology. The group's co-chairs are Noel Hirst, manager of finance and facilities for Business Affairs, and Margaret Dyer-Chamberlain, senior director of capital planning and space management in Land, Buildings and Real Estate.

Starting this week, the task force and the office of Training and Organizational Development launched a series of courses about dealing with change and about how to plan and organize for mobile work conditions, such as telecommuting. In addition, Hirst and Dyer-Chamberlain are analyzing the results of a survey given to more than 900 employees and managers that asked them about productivity and any concerns about relocating.

The overall response to the survey impressed both the consulting firm that conducted it and the task force co-chairs. Out of 930 surveys sent out, 80 percent were returned—giving the co-chairs 95 percent confidence in the data. According to the Work Anywhere leaders, 100 pages of written comments indicated the thoughtfulness of Stanford employees, their commitment to the university and their strong desire to make the move work.

In the survey, staff were asked about such things as the specialized hardware and equipment they need, specialized tools and applications, what private and confidential information they handle, what type of storage they need, what work environment changes are needed, what impact moving would have on them and what other suggestions they had.

Hirst and Dyer-Chamberlain said they will share the overall findings of the survey in about a month, so the data can be presented in context with other responses now being tallied and analyzed. However, they said some conclusions are already apparent.

Many employees cited a great deal of collaboration among their peers on campus in their and other offices, and many expressed how satisfied they were with productivity levels and their work environment—a finding that Dyer-Chamberlain said indicates how high the standards will be for the offices at Porter Drive.

After she and Hirst release the final results of the survey, they will announce in October or November specifically which offices and staff will be moving. Around that time, they also will host town hall meetings, offer tours of the Porter Drive buildings and launch a contest to find them a fun new name—perhaps in the spirit of the "Bambi and Godzilla" or "Harold and Maude" modular buildings.

"We need something more interesting than A, B, C, D, E and F—which are the current names of the buildings," Dyer-Chamberlain said.

Stanford Report also will continue to cover the university's changing workplace with occasional articles on innovative faculty and staff office spaces, new technologies designed to support the evolving work environment and pilot programs that put the Work Anywhere concepts to the test.

"Touch down" spaces represent one Work Anywhere program. Similar to what hotels offer for business travelers, touch down spaces are being planned in several spots on the main campus—as well as in temporary and future workplaces that Stanford envisions opening for university employees working away from the main campus. These touch down areas will give staff who have to bounce between locations a place to plug in their laptop, get a cup of coffee and perhaps even conduct small meetings.

SRI move

The School of Medicine's interim move to Menlo Park will affect 200 employees in Finance, Human Resources, Information Resources and Technology, Facilities Planning and Management, Institutional Planning, Research Management, and Communications and Public Affairs. They will move into rented space in three buildings on Ravenswood Avenue near Middlefield Road.

Julia Tussing, the school's managing director for finance and administration, chairs a 14-member steering committee that has been meeting since last October to oversee the changes required to make the move a success. "It's really important to record the lessons we learn as we go," Tussing said. "I think that getting the technology and training in place and getting the bugs out is critical to the success of the move."

The School of Medicine signed a six-year lease with SRI International, which owns the Menlo Park buildings. Eventually, the employees there—like the ones relocating to Porter Drive—will move again. The 46-acre Mid-Point property in Redwood City, where Stanford Hospital and Clinics is now building a new outpatient center, is expected to be the permanent home of all the temporarily relocated staff. The opening of the Redwood City campus is expected to be in 2011.

President John Hennessy; Randy Livingston, vice president for business affairs and chief financial officer; and Provost Etchemendy all are emphasizing the critical role these moves will play in supporting the university's academic mission—again, because they will free up the additional space needed on the core campus for future growth in teaching, learning and research.

Etchemendy, however, also added that the determination of which offices had to move was not based on which functions are more or less important to the educational mission. He said every office at Stanford plays an essential role in carrying out its mission, and that the excellence of each office contributes to the overall excellence of the university.

"Stanford is blessed with the best and most loyal staff of any university in the country. That loyalty stems in part from the institution's inspiring mission and the pride we all feel about being part of that mission," Etchemendy said. "I hope none of that will change for those who move off campus. But loyalty also results from being a great place to work, and we have to do everything we can to make sure the move off campus does not change that for those who move."

Feedback for the task force may be submitted by e-mail to work_anywhere_facilities@lists.stanford.edu.